Infrastructure the key to Dutch cycling success

Image: bicycledutch.wordpress.com
Image: bicycledutch.wordpress.com

In the majority of western countries, car culture has grown at the expense of cycling, according to Streetsblog.   But not in Holland.   The Dutch chose to develop infrastructure that supported and enhanced the safety and convenience of riding a bike.  According to  A view from the cycle path, contributor David Hembrow, “Dutch people are empowered to cycle by safe/convenient infrastructure”.

Infrastructure has been highlighted as the key to successful cycling, and continues to survive alongside the rise of the motor vehicle.  By limiting danger and noise from car traffic, the Dutch are able to enjoy their cycle journey anywhere by bike, even to the motor racing circuits.  Dutch people like cars a lot, but they also like bikes.  This video highlights the importance of bike riding in Holland.

What is surprising to note is that the Dutch still cover three-quarters of all their km’s travelled by privately owned cars, as recorded by Streetsblog.  This would have us think that cycling would be a very unpleasant experience, due to traffic noise, congestion and air pollution.  However, recent research shows that the Dutch cycle in larger numbers for their journeys than people in any other country, purely because of infrastructure, which means reduced numbers of   traffic on the roads.

Hembrow cites a few examples of countries, where cycling suffered a steep decline.  Take the UK for instance, where a few decades ago the British were cycling in far greater numbers than the Dutch.  But as cars came to dominate the roads, the UK suffered a steep decline in cycling numbers.  It is believed that due to the lack of investment in infrastructure, cycling numbers dropped.

Hembrow also notes that cycling was also very popular mode of transport in Wellington, NZ, during the 50’s.   However, due to a change in vision by the then Government, transport funding and policies favoured motor vehicles as the transport of the future.

Let’s put cycling infrastructure back on the agenda.

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